West Philadelphia: ‘Fresh For All’ program feeding residents

This article was written for my Philadelphia Neighborhoods class at Temple University, is published on its website and was featured on Philabundance‘s site.

By Candice Monhollan, Audra Neff-Williams and Mike Polinsky

Residents of West Philadelphia waited in line to receive free fruits and vegetables from Philabundance. (Candice Monhollan)

Residents of West Philadelphia waited in line to receive free fruits and vegetables from Philabundance. (Candice Monhollan)

It’s hard to miss the mass of people lined up between Spruce and 49th streets on a Wednesday afternoon. They are racially mixed with young and old, but one thing they have in common is the empty bags and baskets they brought with them.

Residents of West Philadelphia come to this spot to partake in Philabundance’s Fresh For All program where they bring in fruits and vegetables for free.

“Some people are out here at 7 o’clock,” said Pat Pearson, 64, a resident of 50th Street.

To receive the produce, residents sign-up and give basic household information, listed the Philabundance site.

Pearson found out two years ago at a local store and has since brought home what she could.

“They put it out on the table and they tell you how much you can have when you go up there,” Pearson said. “They try to stretch it out. Some things might be five, some things might be two, some things might be three. You take what you get and you work with it.”

Pearson noted that many of the residents who take advantage of the program are retirees.

“Sometimes the money runs out,” Pearson said. “You only have so much.”

Michael Norman, 58, is also one of those retirees and said he’s still trying to pay off student loans at his age.

“I’m fortunate enough to have food stamps that can help out, but they don’t kick in until the 12th of the month,” Norman said. “So between here and then are lean times.”

Fresh For All comes around once a week, every week throughout the year, except in cases of severe weather. The food is usually the same, but to residents like Pearson and Norman, it doesn’t matter.

“Sometimes you get bananas, bananas, bananas,” Pearson said. “People complain, but you shouldn’t. You’re getting it for free. Just be grateful for what you’re getting.”

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